Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader

Farrar. Feb. 2020. 176p. ISBN 9780374282158. $34. LIT
Gornick (The Odd Woman and the City) describes herself as someone who reads to “feel the power of life with a capital L.” In nine essays, the author candidly discusses her rereading of literary works during different moments in her life by authors such as Elizabeth Bowen, J.L. Carr, Colette, Marguerite Duras, Natalia Ginzburg, Thomas Hardy, and Doris Lessing. Synthesizing the various writings, while simultaneously describing how her interpretation of the texts has changed with each rereading through a personal, feminist, and postmodern lens, Gornick expounds on D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers and the experience of identifying with a different character each time. Books she disliked or misunderstood decades before were appreciated after a second reading as a result of life experience or change (including the adoption of two cats). Gornick recognizes that in that initial encounter, one might not be emotionally ready to appreciate a work fully, but with each rereading will recognize a new literary element or better understand a particular protagonist no matter how many times the book has been perused before.
VERDICT A delightful entry for lovers of literature and literary criticism.

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